Is it a little weird to know how many people won’t even see this first line based on the title alone? Weird? Not really – it’s something we’re used to. We, being women. Oops. There go the male readers! Stay with me! The thing is, there are so many names I could have put up there – all evoking some kind of icky, unexplained reaction. Hilary, Ruth, Nancy, AOC. It doesn’t have to be politically related. Serena, Hope, Lindsay, Simone. Or sports related. Chrissy, Chelsea, Amy. It doesn’t even have to be a current list. Odetta, Susan, Gloria, Billie Jean, Elizabeth. You see, this has been going on forever – this thing where woman fight to get a seat at the table. It’s ironic – since we women are so often the ones who buy the table, set the table and put the food on the table – yet, we often cannot sit there. So, yes, whenever a woman is able to push her way through – shoulder shoving her way through a sea of suits – we should cheer, we should cry, we should breathe a bit of that satisfactory air.
We deserve it.
We look at the young girls around us – hoping that they will never remember a world in which they weren’t invited. We think well, it’s too late for me, but I bet that spunky little first-grader could pilot a rocket ship to Mars, or now that’s a kid who will go places if the norms don’t kick her down. The norms have been kicking us down for a long time. Such a long time that many women don’t even think about it very often – until one of our tribe does something BIG and then it’s like oh, shite! yes! I forgot we hadn’t conquered that mountain! Your reaction to such events shouldn’t have to be Oh, finally!, it should be, Wait, what?!?! Why did that take so long? Why are we still held back?!?! That’s a loaded question. I mean, it’s probably just because we woman lean toward the bitchy side, right? Isn’t that sort of status quo in the workplace? If a woman is aggressive and motivated and not afraid to launch her career off the shoulders of others – than she’s a bitch or she’s deranged or she has her period. Egad! Her period?? How dare she take a job with that condition?? Shouldn’t she be out at the edge of town in the Red Tent??
It’s not the same for men. Men who are aggressive and motivated and not afraid to launch their careers off the shoulders of others are, well, a great assets to the company, really going places, full of potential, a real gem. Way to go champ, you win. It lands in the same category of calling a woman a whore because she has more than three (we’ll say) partners in a year – yet most of his fans look at Mick Jagger’s claim of forty thousand shags as deserving as the prize for best display of testosterone. Way to go champ, you win.
If you’re feeling amped up right now, you’re probably guilty. Take a breath. It’ll be okay. Also, is this a good time to tell you about my angle? That this is all thought out with more of a hmmmm emoji, than a shocked one? More of a shrug than a face palm?
We all watched Nancy Pelosi tear up those papers. And then we all listened as so many turned on her (she seems old for a period, but…). Yet, hello. Name a woman who has spent more than six hours with just about any man that hasn’t wanted to pick something of his up, tear it to shreds and then stuff it down his throat just to get him to stop man-splaining. I mean, not me. Sometimes my eyes just get glazed over when a fellow is droning on and on and on. I’m definitely not wondering where the nearest exit is or if he knows about the three nose hairs fluttering when he breathes. It didn’t really even bother me that all the men thought Nancy was nuts. Shrug. What I had a hard time digesting was all the women who jumped on that surely, she cray-cray bandwagon.
Ladies, I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again. We have got to support each other.
We. Have. Got. To. Support. Each. Other.
From the woman you passed in Target and eye-rolled because she was on the phone while her kid was on a iPad to the woman who always shows up to your team’s Zoom meetings late to, yes, even the lady Face-timing her way through the canned goods aisle. And, let me tell you – that drives me bananas. But maybe this is it. Maybe this is her only chance to see her father because he is in an unvisitable nursing home and she only has thirty minutes to speak to him today.
We cannot ride through this imbalanced world nitpicking at the things we see or hear one another do and expect anything but a continued missing seat at the table. Men depend on our bickering – they depend on it to keep us out of range of the room that the table actually sits in. Yes!! Let the ladies stay over there tearing each other apart and we’ll go over here and make all these decisions while they figure out who the alpha female is. Oh, the decisions are about their salaries/healthcare/timeoff/dresscode/bodies? Totally fine, by the time they get done fighting, we’ll have everything buttoned up. If you’re still fine with this happening…well, why? If you don’t think a woman should be involved in decisions about women or given the same rights to an opinion in those decisions as men…well, why? No. Really. I actually do want to know.
We have a female Vice-President (Elect). That is a huge deal. A minority female at that. YUGE. And the balance of the congratulatory pats on the back seems to be a giant interest in whether or not she slept her way there. Really? That’s our concern? You know that’s not actually how it works, right? Right? Look…I’ve taken several dips in the company pool – it’s actually not uncommon. When you spend the majority of your time in an environment with people who have the same interests and goals as you, it’s a fairly logical leap – we just aren’t supposed to talk about it. After those times in which I did throw on my swimsuit and jump in, I was never offered a promotion or to skip the line or even a better parking spot. Despite wearing my work goggles, I still had to excel at my actual job to move up the ladder – I had to earn it. That’s how it works. Not, Oh, how’d I get this job? I just threw on my swim cap for a few weeks and BAM!, I’m the new Head of HR. I did look it up though, this Kamala-sticking-point, after the third time I heard oh, yup, slept her way there. I did what everyone else does and I fact checked it (and by everyone… I mean no one). It’s fairly untrue. Yes, she had a relationship with someone with whom she worked with. Yes, that person had been separated from their spouse for nearly a decade before that relationship started. Yes, they were in a relationship for five years – unhidden and non-secretive (because it’s everyone’s business after all. And by everyone’s, I mean no one’s). Yes, I did just say ‘relationship’ three times. Yes, because it was a relationship, not a fast track. Although, hello. The reality is I don’t actually know anymore of the truth than anyone else.
PS….if we’re passing out accusations, should none go to the man?
Or maybe I’m just trying not to get pissed. Maybe it really was a ploy all along and it worked and she spent five years with this fellow years ago because she and her career counselor had a deal worked out where she’d get taken to dinner, told she was pretty, enjoy having someone she could lean on and THEN would also get a free ticket to the White House. And maybe now I’m just as confused as every other woman in the country who has not been given the same reward. I mean, for crying out loud, I’ve been sleeping with the same co-worker since 2012 and just completed a 12-month-long comp review only to be left at the exact same salary as I was in 2011 (not including cost of living increases, full disclosure). Maybe I’m doing it wrong? Was I supposed to fill out some other paperwork? Where’s my sleep-up-the-ladder career counselor?
Or maybe…maybe that’s why the men are pissed. Because maybe they are realizing that the women in their workplace who are sleeping with them might be doing it for other reasons than ‘he’s a real gem – wink, wink.’ Maybe they’re panicking or questioning their abilities or wondering if they are only attractive because of their position and not because of their position. Just kidding. Women don’t actually have time for that. We’re busy being valuable employees while running kids around while making mental grocery lists while picking out new garden flags to match the current holiday I order to mark our house as one where there is a female inhabitant.
Dang it, ladies, we may have really effed this up if the men are on to us. Quick question – are tampons free for as of January 21st? Asking for a friend. Who likes to visit every 28-32 days.
This year has been tough. And the last week was certainly the icing on the shit cake. But as a female – and a female in a male-dominated workplace – I will pull out my pom-poms, learn the baton, buy some white cowboy boots and lead the dang parade for a woman who has made it further than any other woman in her given field of play. If you’re a woman and you’re not feeling some inkling of total vaginal pride – then, you need to check your pulse at the door – because it is a big deal. I think back to 2008, when Obama won – and what an awesome feeling it was to think of all those kids in grade school who would never remember a world where a black man couldn’t be president. And I think the same today – about all those little girls who won’t remember a world where having a woman at the (near) top was unrealistic. Weeks ago, we were mourning the loss of RGB – another shot to the 2020 heart. The wound has closed a little as the door to possibility creaked open again.
Take a minute. Breathe it in. Put your feelings on policies and red/blue and donkeys and elephants aside – and understand this historical moment. Peak through the latest hole in the glass ceiling. Buy some new shoes to traipse around the shards so you don’t get splinters. Know that, whether or not you picked her – she did something for all women, including you.
She got us a seat at the table.